Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2015 review: A return to form
Dreamweaver’s problem has always been keeping pace with the web. That might sound odd, given it’s an application for creating websites – either through hand-coding or various layout-orientated tools and views – but web technology never stays still for long. To remain relevant, you can’t unveil a new and exciting tool in your software that everyone needed two years ago, but that’s now broadly obsolete.
In recent times, it’s therefore surprising how light some Dreamweaver updates have been, to the point where you began to wonder whether “natty new icon” would eventually be a headliner. In Creative Cloud 2015, however, it seems as though what Dreamweaver can do and what modern web designers need it to do are finally converging.
A responsive web
Having “create responsive websites” as this update’s flagship feature is probably enough to make most web designers choke on their overpriced lattes. It’s not as if Adobe has only just discovered responsive web design (a mere five years after the rest of the industry); it’s just that, with this update, it seems the company finally “gets” responsive design – and has provided some useful tools to go with it.
In Live view, for example, you now get colour-coded Visual Media Query bars above your web page: green for queries using max-width; purple for queries with min-width; and blue for queries with both. Clicking a bar automatically resizes your page in Live view to the relevant breakpoint, and there’s also a scrubber bar for manually dragging your layout around, just as you would when testing in a browser.
When designing from scratch, Bootstrap integration now gives you a headstart, and there are six templates from which to choose. Adobe’s demo site, Vermilion, showcases the advantages of this approach particularly well, with columns that are draggable, enabling you to resize them without creating a hideous mess of code. (Take that, Dreamweaver circa 2005!)
If you’re a coding purist who loathes the relative bloat of Bootstrap, the rest of these tools work just as well with your own sleeker sites.
The other big new feature that should get you properly excited is multiple device previewing. Adobe has form in this area. With Adobe Edge Inspect, you can load a site in Google Chrome, fire it at multiple devices, and then fiddle about with the code inspector; all the while, you can watch live updates of the results of your tinkering.
In effect, you can now do all this directly from Dreamweaver. For all devices that are online and signed into your Adobe ID, you either scan in a QR code or enter a URL into a browser. When you subsequently update your layout in Dreamweaver, it will refresh on all of your devices within a second or so.
Presumably, this was designed with mobile in mind – to test in-progress sites on iPads, iPhones and Android devices – but it has wider scope. It’s possible to use the same URL in a desktop browser on a second display and/or in a virtual machine running an alternate OS. This is a big time-saver, and reason alone for switching – or at least, if you’re a lapsed Dreamweaver user, returning the application to your toolkit.